Seasonal Affective Disorder-- Nutritional Intervention
As I pick my kids up from daycare now a days, the sky is already
beginning to darken. I look to my watch to check the time and see it’s only
4:30 in the afternoon! Night comes much sooner than it has in the past and the
temperatures are slowly creeping lower and lower. These two pieces of our
changing environment can bring about a sadness or malaise in some people. It
can get you feeling down. If you feel this way 1) you are not crazy and 2) you
are not alone. This feeling of seasonal sadness actually has a name and effects
many people each year.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
is a type of depression that tends to recur during the fall/winter seasons each
year with relief from symptoms occurring with the arrival of the spring/summer
seasons. Symptoms are the same as major depressive disorder and can include,
fatigue, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, changes in appetite
and/or sleep patterns. The risk of developing SAD is higher for those who live
further from the equator, those with a personal or family history of depression
and females in general.
There are multiple ways to go about treatment for SAD including
medication, light therapy, psychotherapy and nutritional supplementation. Diet
alone is not powerful enough to treat SAD but can be an effective supplemental
treatment. Below I have outlined a few foods components that can help boost
your mood/combat depressive symptoms.
Omega 3 fatty
Omega 3 fatty acids help
strengthen the synapses or connections between neurotransmitters. They also
have a positive effect on dopamine and serotonin, which have a calming nature.
Sources that contain the
highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids include flax seeds, walnuts, and salmon.
Whole grains are those
that contain, you guessed it, the whole grain. Meaning parts of the grain have
not been removed during processing. Processed grains/sugar may give you a
little happy boost at first, but too much sugar will create a spike in blood
sugar and then a crash after a sugar high is over, making you feel worse than
before. Examples of whole grains include whole grain bread, pasta, brown/wild
rice, beans, bulger, oats, quinoa.
calcium and vitamin D, which help reduce fatigue, repair cell damage and
stabilize mood. Fermented
foods with active cultures contain probiotics
(healthy bacteria) which have shown to reduce anxiety
and stress hormones.
Examples of dairy and active cultures include:-Milk,
Yogurt, Cheese, Kefir, Kimchi, Pickled Vegetables
tryptophan, which has a calming effect on the body like serotonin. It also
contains carbohydrates from natural sugars and potassium to help fuel your
brain. Magnesium, another present nutrient, may reduce anxiety and improve
sleep— two symptoms of seasonal depression.
I hope you
are enjoying this season free from SAD, but if you are one of those who are
suffering please try some of these nutritional interventions to supplement your
other therapies! Check out the recipe page for a depression fighting meal/snack
(depending on your hunger level)!
Posted by Lindsey Davis